Golden State county boosts efficiency with online permitting setup
As the department that issues all building permits in San Diego County (Calif.), the Department of Planning & Development Services (PDS) has seen a 300 percent increase in solar permitting in the past five years.
The department wanted to get ahead of future growth to best serve its customers. While the department offered same-day permit processing for walk-in customers, the increasing volume of solar permits would eventually prove more than staff could handle.
PDS was already using Accela Land Management on the Civic Platform, so expanding its use to cover solar permitting was a logical next step. In the summer of 2013, the department decided to offer online permitting in addition to in-person services. Likewise, PDS evaluated its internal processes. Management identified opportunities to increase efficiencies with online plan submission and a dedicated solar review team.
Accela’s online solar permitting solution allows PDS to create templates for common permit types and frequent customers that prepopulate several fields, which greatly reduces processing time. It also allows the county to manage online payments for solar permitting.
Since bringing solar permitting online, PDS has experienced a 75 percent decrease in processing time for solar permits. Given that the department will process close to 6,000 solar permits this year, the online shift has brought a considerable time-savings to staff and customers. In addition to solar, the department now offers several other online permits and is processing more than 50 percent of all building permits online.
“Our primary goals are to continuously improve the customer experience, ensure quality and reduce time and cost,” says Vince Nicoletti, Building Chief, Planning & Development Services, San Diego County. “Our primary challenge was the exponential growth in solar permits. We’ve seen a 300 percent increase in the past five years. With that work, we needed to find a new way to process those permits, and Accela is what helps us automate what we’re doing and launch our online services to reduce time and cost for the customers.”